The story in this movie revolves around the choice between safety and richness. Because it assumes we are stupid, it has two story lines to hammer the point home, the point that safety is the wrong choice.
And then in the highest of ironies, the picture is fabricated and presented in a way that picks the safe choice in every single element. Every one.
But there is something worth watching here. If you take out the toilet jokes, and the two horrible main characters, and the sappy moral, and the dumb animal joke, you end up with a few great supporting characters: Hank Azaria, Alec Baldwin, and Missi Pyle could have made a better movie with just their characters.
But the thing that makes this worth watching is Phil Hoffman. He is terrific in most things, but I like him best when he is like this, a weak director and no important function in the story. That means he can be inventive in unconstrained ways. It means we see his energetic projection.
The character he plays is one of those folded ones: an actor playing an actor whose role in the story is in a play, and in a reality TeeVee show of himself, and finally as “proxy” for Ben Stiller while Stiller is off doing the formula date movie ending.
Watch this just for Hoffman. See him perform the role as written: a has-been actor who has invented himself as a character. And then see him make that circular by convincing us that the actor is him in real life.
Posted in 2005
Ted’s Evaluation — 2 of 3: Has some interesting elements.